This EDM Loving, Rave Going Med Student Carved Her Own Path

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PMY 568: This EDM Loving, Rave Going Med Student Carved Her Own Path

Session 568

Today, let’s hear about Julia’s journey to medicine, including her initial interests in dance and science and her path to medical school admissions. She shares her experiences balancing medical school with personal passions, and perspectives on social media’s impact on physicians and patients.

For more podcast resources to help you with your medical school journey and beyond, check out Meded Media.

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

Interest in Becoming a Physician

Julia was initially drawn to the premed world after taking AP Biology in high school and being fascinated by the central dogma of biology and how genes get translated into proteins. This sparked her interest in learning more about physiology, which led her to start taking premed classes in college just to see if she wanted to fully pursue medicine.

Navigating the Medical School Admissions Process: Don’t Rely on Just One Checklist

As a premed student, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the vast amount of information available online about getting into medical school. However, it’s important to keep in mind that not all of this information is accurate.

Medical schools have different priorities and preferences. With over 200 allopathic medical schools in the US, each with its own admissions committee made up of diverse individuals, it’s naive to think there is one single checklist or formula for success. What appeals to one committee may not impress another. Trying to precisely mimic what you think admissions wants often backfires – they can see right through an application that feels disingenuous or like it’s just checking boxes.

“You can tell when someone is just checking the boxes.”

My recommendation would be to focus less on any one list of “requirements”, and more on cultivating well-rounded experiences that are meaningful to you. Get to know yourself – your values, strengths, and motivations – and highlight how you will bring uniqueness to the field.

Medical schools want students who can thrive in their environment, so show your personality!

Most importantly, don’t stress if your application doesn’t mirror the “perfect” applicant. As long as you meet the basic academic standards and interview well, following your passions can help you “stand out” from the crowd.

The Hardest Part of Being Premed

Julia shares she struggled most with the uncertainty of whether all the hard work of being a premed student would be worth it, or if she would even get into medical school. She expressed feeling terrified that she was missing out on her college experience and time with friends. As she was focusing so much on studying and extracurricular activities, without any guarantee of getting into med school after graduation. The lack of certainty and fear of rejection seemed to be the most challenging aspect of her premed journey.

The No Plan B Psychology

Julia reconciled the uncertainty of whether medical school would be worth it if she didn’t get in, since she expressed struggling with self-doubt. Julia admits she had no backup plan – her plan B was to reapply and plan C was to reapply as well. She says she didn’t have a choice but to fully commit to getting into medical school.

Research has shown having a backup plan or alternative option can distract from fully committing to the primary goal. Knowing there is another path can undermine driving full focus and effort toward plan A. This no backup plan philosophy can be psychologically proven to help focus fully on the goal, rather than being distracted by alternative options. However, it’s also important to be realistic about academic abilities and chances of admission.

Julia’s single-minded dedication to getting accepted into medical school, with no other options considered, allowed her to apply herself completely without reservation. While it requires being realistic about one’s chances, psychology demonstrates that not having a safety net can paradoxically increase motivation and drive towards the desired outcome.

Key Factors to Julia’s Success

Julia attributes her success in getting into medical school to a few key factors in her application and interview process. She was able to curate all of her diverse experiences, like her unique build-your-own major, to tell a cohesive story and show a holistic approach to medicine.

Her experiences matched her motivations and reasons for pursuing medicine, demonstrating true passion and commitment to her chosen career path. She also showed initiative, ambition, and a willingness to think outside the box, like creating her own curriculum. This set her apart from applicants just checking boxes.

Julia is discussing one of her most meaningful experiences, being a Crisis Text Line counselor. She explains how she was able to tie this experience back to sociology and psychology classes she took in her undergraduate career. Specifically, she connected her motivations for taking those classes to her reasoning for wanting to pursue psychiatry or medicine in general.

By drawing these links in her application and interviews, Julia showed a coherent narrative and rationale for her path, beyond just listing individual activities.

Finally, her interviewers were impressed by her reflection on her journey and clear understanding of herself and why she was pursuing this career. This self-awareness helped her communicate compellingly.

Beyond Checking the Boxes

“Most people who are just checking that box aren’t reflecting. They’re just doing and they’re not understanding why and able to communicate that.”

While some students have excellent grades and test scores, Julia demonstrated a deeper level of self-awareness that is just as, if not more, important to admissions committees. Specifically, Julia clearly understood who she was as a person, beyond just her academic record. She was able to articulate her motivations for medicine and why she was pursuing this career path.

Julia reflected meaningfully on her journey up to that point, from her initial interests to how she evolved as a premed student. She communicated this reflection compellingly in her application, likely coming across as authentic and passionate about medicine for the right reasons.

This level of introspection and ability to tell her unique “story” set Julia apart from applicants who only focus on checking boxes, even those with perfect stats. Understanding oneself is key to medical school admissions.

With over 60,000 applicants to medical school each year, most extracurricular activities and experiences have already been done by other candidates. Therefore, focusing solely on checking boxes of things students think will impress admissions is not enough, since those things are now commonplace.

Instead of worrying about what will look best on paper, think about what truly interests you and what you personally want to spend your time doing. When applicants pursue meaningful activities out of personal passion, rather than just perceived benefit to their application, it allows their authentic selves and motivations to shine through.

Navigating Through the Transition from Undergrad to Med School

Julia found the transition from undergrad to medical school very difficult. She was not prepared for the immense volume of information she was expected to learn in medical school, which far surpassed the workload of her pre-med courses.

She also struggled to adjust to the more intense time commitment required, as medical school demanded studying every day rather than taking weekends off like in undergrad. It was a big adjustment for Julia to ramp up her work ethic and time management skills to the increased demands of her medical education.

Maintaining Life Outside of Medical School

Julia prioritized maintaining a balanced life outside of medical school through very intentional time management and scheduling. She would plan out each day and week, allocating blocks of time for studying, and self-care activities like working out and socializing with friends and family.

Julia stressed the importance of filling any free periods with planned commitments like yoga classes or meetups in order to stay engaged in fulfilling hobbies. She found this approach helped her feel recharged and motivated to dedicate long hours to her studies. It allowed Julia to pursue her passions while still succeeding academically in the demanding world of medical education.

Applying Parkinson’s Law

Parkinson’s Law is the principle that “the time taken to complete a task will expand to the time allotted for its completion.” In other words, if you give yourself more time to do something, you are likely to take more time to finish it.

This is why Julia’s approach of filling her schedule is effective. By planning specific activities during her free periods, she avoids the tendency to procrastinate or drag out tasks if time is unstructured. This helps her maximize productivity and balance her medical school responsibilities with personal life commitments in a timely manner.

Embracing Her Identity Outside of Work

Julia expresses her love of electronic dance music (EDM) and her social media presence where she shares aspects of this passion, including attending raves. Julia enjoys festival fashion as a form of self-expression. While some see this as unprofessional, her followers counter that she is not dressing this way for work or clinical settings. Julia’s followers trust her professionalism, showing character matters most, not arbitrary judgments of personal style off-duty.

Julia argues people should be able to embrace their femininity and sexuality freely without stigma or assumptions of unprofessionalism outside of job-related contexts. As a medical student and future physician who pushes boundaries with her appearances at festivals and on social media, Julia stresses that her fashion choices occur outside of clinical/work settings, where professional standards still apply. She notes that happy, balanced physicians have better outcomes and patient relationships. Her lifestyle enhances well-being.

Seeing Docs as Real People Thanks to Social Media

Social platforms these days are giving us a more well-rounded view of folks. Through Instagram or TikTok, we get to know personalities beyond just their 9-5. Julia shows not only her time in class or clinic but also her passion for dance scenes and festival fashion. This shows doctors are multi-dimensional humans with different sides, not robots who exist solely for their jobs. We realize physicians have lives full of meaning outside the hospital too. It challenges the old idea of professionals needing to be one-note.

“Physicians who are happier and more balanced have better outcomes.”

By humanizing medical workers, it builds understanding between them and patients. People see doctors as whole people rather than distant roles. Maybe this even helps bring more folks in for the care they need when they feel closer to their healthcare teams. In the end, social media reveals we’re all complex with many layers. It’s cool to see multiple sides of someone rather than making assumptions based on one context alone.

Social Media Advice to Applicants

Julia would advise premed students and applicants to approach their social media presence with care during the application process. She recommends considering making profiles private until accepted into medical school or residency to avoid any potential issues.

However, Julia also encourages students not to dull their shine or stop pursuing passions – they should follow interests confidently while remaining mindful of what they post online. If sharing openly, applicants should ensure anything on their accounts would be acceptable for family or admissions to see.

Most importantly, Julia stresses focusing the application on authentically telling one’s own story. Overall well-being should take priority too – a happy, balanced candidate will interview most successfully. Above all, Julia emphasizes finding joy in the journey to medicine.

“The people who have these lives outside of medicine or doing things that are contributing outside of their job, have better connections with patients.”

Final Words of Wisdom

Julia would likely leave applicants with this final piece of encouragement:

Don’t be afraid to walk your own path. If you have a passion or angle that excites you, fully embrace it, even if it’s not the traditional route. Trust yourself and back your abilities – as long as you give everything your all, no matter what happens you’ll be okay. Have confidence in who you are and what draws you to this career.

Julia’s story shows the value of believing in oneself authentically and not dulling one’s shine for the sake of fitting expectations. Pursuing meaningful experiences out of genuine motivation served her well in the admissions process. Her words aim to inspire others to similarly follow their hearts on the journey to becoming physicians.


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